Fish & Richardson Invalidates Columbia's Omni-Heat Patent for Client Seirus

After a 13-day trial, a San Diego jury returned a verdict late last week finding Columbia Sportswear Company's patent covering its Omni-Heat technology invalid. The jury also refused to find that Seirus' HeatWave technology infringed Columbia's patent. Seirus, which is based in Poway, California, was represented by Fish & Richardson.

"We are pleased with the outcome for our client, Seirus," said Chris Marchese, a principal in the Southern California office of Fish & Richardson. "The Seirus' products that include HeatWave are an important part of the company's ski and cold weather gear offerings and it is important for our client to protect their technology and their brand."

In 2013, Columbia filed suit against Seirus alleging Seirus' HeatWave product line infringed a Columbia patent. In 2014, Columbia amended the complaint, adding two utility patents relating to its Omni-Heat technology - U.S. Patent Nos. 8,424,119 and 8,453,270.

The case was originally filed in the Western District of Washington, but in 2014 Columbia refiled in the District of Oregon. On Sept. 1, 2017, presiding judge Hon. Marco Hernandez granted Seirus' motion to transfer venue to the Southern District of California in light of the Supreme Court's TC Heartland decision. Despite the transfer, Judge Hernandez refused to continue the trial date and instead sat by assignment in the Southern District of California to preside over the trial.

Fish & Richardson took over the litigation just two months before trial with Chris Marchese, Seth Sproul and Tucker Terhufen of Fish & Richardson P.C., along with Renee Routhage of Markowitz Herbold PC of Portland, Ore., serving as trial counsel.

On the eve of trial, Columbia dropped all allegations against Seirus relating to one of the two asserted utility patents for its Omni-Heat technology. The trial centered on two claims of Columbia's '270 patent and the issue of damages relating to the design patent.

"We have asserted all along that our HeatWave innovation was our own. We have opposed Columbia's efforts to claim Seirus' development as their own from the beginning of this lawsuit," said Mike Carey, Seirus founder and CEO. "We feel completely vindicated in this process and thank the jury for its hard work. This means a lot to our employees who have worked hard over the years on our HeatWave line of products."

The jury also determined an amount of damages that Seirus must pay for the design patent relating to an old Seirus design. Seirus intends to appeal that finding and the finding of liability for the design patent on which the damages award was based.

"We are confident that the basis of the design patent award can be successfully challenged," Carey said. "In the end, we are glad to have the trial behind us and look forward to being able to move forward unencumbered by Columbia's threat of patent infringement."